As Textbook Prices Rise, Open Educational Resources Provide an Alternative Option for College Students
By: Kelly Clark, CTE MEd
January 16, 2020
Graphic image of a book morphing into a laptop for e-learning.
It is no secret that textbook prices have grown exponentially in the last decade. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the cost of textbooks increased approximately 190% between January 2006 and January 2018! The average price of textbooks and instructional materials is $1,200 per academic year (College Board, 2019).
Baker College is committed to finding ways to make education more affordable for our students. One way Baker College is accomplishing this is through the adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) for courses taken by most students early in their studies – courses like Economics, English, and Psychology.
OERs are totally free and openly licensed educational materials that are used for teaching, learning, and research purposes. They include textbooks, course lessons, images, digital software, virtual reality spaces, presentations, and articles. They also come from the same places as print materials – researchers, authors, experts, and faculty at colleges and universities all over the world. OERs are textbooks and other learning materials that are accessible online and downloadable for offline viewing at no cost to students. In many cases, there are also very low-cost options for a print version. The primary benefit of OERs for students may be cost savings; however, recent studies have indicated that students are performing at the same or higher levels than those using traditional textbooks.
By implementing these online resources, Baker College saved students $93,500 in textbook costs across just eight courses in 2019, and in January 2020, two more courses are implementing OERs. Because Baker College is continuously improving programs that educate leaders in Healthcare, Business, Social Sciences, Nursing, Engineering, Informational Technology, Occupational Therapy, and Education, expect to see more courses engaging with these resources in the future.
The OER movement is gaining more and more momentum each year nationally as traditional course material prices continue to rise, and as additional educational institutions become aware of Open Educational Resources. Baker College is building the awareness of OERs by encouraging the adoption of these instructional materials in their courses. The Instructional Design team is collaborating with librarians, researchers, and faculty to promote the use of OERs for the courses in which they will have the most significant impact. By doing this, we hope to provide opportunities for faculty to customize materials to meet students’ needs in order to increase student success and to decrease the cost of earning a degree.
Kelly Clark, CTE MEd, has been with Baker College for 12 years as an Instructional Designer. Before that, she ran an educational center for a General Motors facility. While working for a school district and GM, she taught high school juniors and seniors. Clark holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, an Elementary Education certification in mathematics and social sciences, and a Master's in Education. She currently serves as the Director of Instructional Design for Baker College, is a Certified Quality Matters Master Course Reviewer and a Certified Quality Matters Program Reviewer. She is one of six board members of the MI OER Network leading the OER charge for the state of Michigan. She is also leading the charge for Baker College, along with the BC librarians.